Iran’s Supreme Leader fast-tracked an unfair case against an Iranian pastor after he was accused of acting “against national security,” sentencing him to five years in prison.
Matthias Haghnejad was arrested last February by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard. Agents burst into Haghnejad’s church while he was teaching in his church during a worship service. They also arrested eight other people from the congregation.
The official presiding over Haghnejad’s case was Judge Mohammed Moghiseh, who is well-known for perpetrating miscarriages of justice, particularly against Christians. In a shocking move, the judge refused the pastor the opportunity to choose his own legal representation and transferred him to Evin Prison, Tehran, without delay, according to Faithwire.
Now, it has been revealed that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, granted the judges reviewing Haghnejad’s case special permission to bypass court procedures and throw the men in jail with zero due process.
Behind the scenes, Moghiseh maintains a reputation of handing out unfair sentences against Christians. In Haghnejad’s case, the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, granted Moghiseh the authority to override court procedure and jail the men without legal cause or defense. The other eight men were told they must accept court-appointed legal representatives but refused. Their trial was suspended, and the judge increased their bail terms.
Now all nine Christians have been sentenced to five years in prison, despite the lack of a proper hearing. During one trial in July, the judge falsified the Bible and called the men “apostates.”
The convicted Christians include Pastor Matthias Haghnejad, Shahrooz Islamdust, Behnam Akhlaqi, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi, Khalil Dehghanpour, Hossein Kadivar, Kamal Naamanian, and Mohammad Vafadar.
Speaking to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) about the case, a source close to the trial said that Judge Moghiseh was acting on his blatant anti-Christian bias.
“It seemed as if the judge had already made his decision and allowed this process as a formality before pronouncing a pre-determined sentence,” they noted.
Pastor Haghnejad will now spend the next five years behind bars for simply preaching the gospel.
In response to the ruling, CSW’s Public Affairs Team Leader Kiri Kankhwende said that the charges leveled against the men were “excessive, completely unfounded and constitute a criminalisation of a religion which the Iranian constitution purportedly recognises.”
Iran is listed as the ninth most dangerous place on earth in which to live as a Christian, with Open Doors USA categorizing the level of persecution as “extreme.” Under the country’s Islamic law, it is illegal to preach in Farsi and to proselytize those who are non-Christian.
“Believers from Muslim backgrounds usually keep their faith secret,” the charity explains on its factsheet. “Leaders of Christian convert groups have been arrested, prosecuted and have received long prison sentences for ‘crimes against the national security.’”
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are persecuted as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Hebrews 13:3).